Friday was National Arbor Day, a day most people don’t remember and very few people observe. Yet, this oft-ignored day is probably more important to our planet in the long-run than any other day. Yes, I would even argue that it is of more importance than the various religious holidays, which are either special only to people of a particular religion or have otherwise been commercialized and perverted away from their original holy significance. Arbor Day is vital to every living and future person on the planet and ought to be a world holiday.
Arbor Day celebrates trees by encouraging people to plant trees. Given the number of trees lost in the last century or two to land being cleared for colonization, for farming, for cities, for highways, and for single-story housing developments and sprawling malls, planet Earth has lost billions of acres of trees and the lush plants that live under them. The impact of this is that, while the human and livestock population are growing, the density of oxygen-giving foliage is decreasing. That only compounds the problem with all the carbon dioxide that we, our animals, our cars, our furnaces, and our factories produce.
Moreover, trees lend shade to homes and roadways.
Some people may complain that trees get tangled up with electrical lines, can fall on houses or cars during storms, and leave a mess of leaves in yards and, worse still, swimming pools, providing more work to watch after them. Oddly enough, however, many of the same people have kids, dogs, cats, or other pets, all of which require even more attentive care, feeding, protection, and, sometimes, pose just as much risk to life and limb. To see only the bad side of children, pets, or trees, however, is short-sighted. Just as a well-tended child or pet can provide many redeeming moments of happiness and pride, so too, a well-tended tree can provide the same. When you’re sitting under a tree in a sun-dappled yard, tell me that is not the height of Zen contentment and relaxation. When you’ve planted an apple tree and finally get your first harvest of fresh apples for eating au natural, in pies, or as cider, tell me a tree is a burden.
So do yourself, and all of humanity, the enormous favor of observing Arbor Day by planting a tree. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it, when they can breathe oxygen-rich, cool air.